Aaron Franco

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Capital Tonight: Republicans Debate Details of Immigration Platform

You could call it a Southwest symposium. Today, Gov. Rick Perry welcomed fellow Republican Gov. Jan Brewer to Texas. While the governor of Arizona was here to talk jobs and balancing budgets, she also wanted Perry to be aware of a letter she sent President Obama this week.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we heard how Gov. Brewer is defending her state’s immigration policies and why she says she has a bone to pick with federal officials over immigrants picked up in Texas.


Meanwhile, the devil is in the details for Republicans in Forth Worth, as they work out the language for their party’s immigration platform. We checked in on the latest on that debate, plus former state lawmaker Aaron Peña joined us to give his take.


It’s been months since the last Texas budget was passed, but the debate over whether it was stingy or a spending spree continues. We spoke to Bill Peacock of the Texas Public Policy Foundation about a new report that aims to make an apples-to-apples comparison between budgets.

Capital Tonight: Exclusive Interview with Speaker Joe Straus

Nearly two thirds of the state is still in drought, and the summer has just started. Meanwhile, state lawmakers and water experts are trying to move as fast as possible to confront water scarcity and help fund water projects well into the future.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we checked in on the advisory committee formed to help implement Texas’ water plan to see how it’s progressing.


With the primary runoffs behind us, the focus in Texas politics is turning to the general election in November. But no matter who wins, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus will have to deal with a very different legislative body when the next session convenes. We sat down with Rep. Straus to discuss the primary runoff elections, his strategy for appointing committee chairs and more.


Plus, the Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us with some breaking news on the fight over education funding and a split between gun-rights groups over public demonstrations.

Capital Tonight: Reassessing the ‘Tea Party vs. Establishment’ Narrative

If there was any consensus about the results of Tuesday night’s primary runoff elections, it’s that statewide candidates with Tea Party backing fared better than those without it. One exception to that rule was the race for railroad commissioner, where Ryan Sitton overcame a 12-point deficit in the March primaries to beat out former state Rep. Wayne Christian.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at some of the reasons behind Sitton’s win, and what they say about the grassroots conservative movement in Texas.


At the state House level, the Tea Party’s influence was less clear as well. We sat down with Erica Grieder of Texas Monthly and the Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey to discuss how factors like voter turnout and campaign strategy also played a role.

And we hear plenty of complaints about government spending, but did the Obama administration really spend $200,000 to move a shrub in San Francisco? Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us to check that claim and more.

Capital Tonight: Party Officials Assess Runoff Results

The votes have been counted and the message is clear: Republican primary voters love the Tea Party, at least when it comes to statewide office. But will the larger voting public feel the same way in November?

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we took a closer look at Tuesday night’s primary runoff results to find out.


On the Democratic side, the attack strategies are already being put in motion, while Republicans are moving quickly to unify. We spoke Republican Party of Texas chairman Steve Munisteri and Texas Democratic Party spokesman Emmanuel Garcia to see how they view the results and where they plan to go from here.


At the House level, the Republican establishment fended off a number of attacks from the right Tuesday night. The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg talked about what it could mean for next session.

Capital Tonight: Political analysts preview primary runoff election night

It’s the day before the primary runoff election, where a handful of candidates have been in a fierce fight to win their party’s nomination.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we focused on the lieutenant governor’s race, along with what it could look like in the Senate next session, depending on who takes the gavel.


Plus, our Capital Commentators weighed in on some of the less publicized contests, including a noteworthy fact about the race for agriculture commissioner. 

Capital Tonight: Castro’s Nomination Sets Up ‘Domino Effect’ for Democrats

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro has accepted the president’s nomination to serve as secretary of Housing and Urban Development. In an announcement from the White House, President Barack Obama praised Castro for his leadership at the city level and said he had high hopes for his time in Washington.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at what the possible move means for not only Castro, but some of the state’s other Democratic up-and-comers.


With primary runoff elections just around the corner, some of the public vitriol in the lieutenant governor’s race appears to have died down, at least on television. We sat down with Robert Garrett of The Dallas Morning News, Morgan Smith of the Texas Tribune and KUT reporter Ben Philpott to discuss the race for the state’s second-highest office, along with some of the other races they’ll be keeping an eye on.


The promise to lower property taxes is a popular campaign line, but the state has limited power to control how fast they rise. We spoke to one expert in California, where a dramatic change to reduce property taxes led to unexpected consequences.

Capital Tonight: Lawmakers take on LCRA over water management plan

Two lawmakers from opposite sides of the aisle are coming together over a critical water source found in both of their districts.

Republican Sen. Troy Fraser and Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson have put out a joint statement criticizing the Lower Colorado River Authority’s 2012 Water Management Plan, saying it “falls woefully short” of what is needed. In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we sat down with Sen. Fraser to hear his criticism of the LCRA’s proposal and what measures he believes would work better.


A new ad accuses Senator Wendy Davis of reaching for the stars in California for campaign cash. Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi weighed in on whether the accusation will stick.


As the technology for small, airborne craft known as drones becomes cheaper, more people are discovering that the rules surrounding their use are far from clear. Now, a Wimberley man has filed suit against the Federal Aviation Administration to allow him to fly drones to help find missing persons. We looked at how unregulated the drone industry is, despite its growth.

Abbott ad strikes back at Davis using ‘Star Wars’

It’s no lightsaber duel, but the latest online ad from the Abbott campaign uses a little light and magic to tie his opponent to the dark side — otherwise known as Hollywood.

The minute-long ad makes the most of Sen. Wendy Davis’s trip to Santa Monica, Calif. today, where sci-fi directors J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg are hosting a fundraiser. The event costs a minimum of $1,000 to get in the door, and includes a fundraising bar of $25,000 for “VIP reception” status.

Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Republican Party of Texas have sought to portray Davis as out of touch with Texas voters by highlighting her out-of-state fundraising trips.

The ad’s YouTube page sums up the most recent attack: “A candidate for Texas governor rubbing elbows with gun-grabbing, ObamaCare-promoting, tax-raising Hollywood elites? It sounds like the plot of a sci-fi fantasy film, but when it comes to Sen. Wendy Davis, it’s a reality show.”

Watch the full ad below.



Capital Tonight: A Lesson in Texas’ Rare Impeachment Process

A Texas House panel took another careful step forward Wednesday, beginning the process of drawing up articles of impeachment for UT Regent Wallace Hall. Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Perry expressed his support for the embattled appointee, calling the committee’s efforts “overwhelming opposition from bureaucrats.”

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we heard more on how the impeachment process could move forward. Plus committee member Trey Martinez Fischer joined us in-studio to respond to the governor’s comments and talk about where things go from here.


The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg gave his take on a surprisingly cordial debate between the Republican runoff candidates for lieutenant governor.


House Republicans want to let some schools opt out of providing healthier food options if they’re losing money on the federal lunch program. But First Lady Michelle Obama has stepped in, vowing to fight attempts to roll back the standards. We heard from all sides of the debate, including how kids are responding.

Capital Tonight: Texas veterans’ group weighs in on VA hospital scandal

They’re a key part of the vote in any election, but this year, women voters are set to play an even bigger role. A new Republican group called Red State Women is hoping to draw more female voters to their side. Meanwhile, Texas Democrats are fronting two women at the top of the ticket and hoping issues like equal pay and reproductive rights will bring more women to the polls.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we heard from both Republican and Democratic leaders about what it takes to bring more women into the political fold.


With the race for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor coming down to the wire, can last-minute attacks shift the momentum? Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi weighed in on that question and more.


The scandal over VA hospitals continues to grow, but does the problem stem from more than just the current leadership? We sat down with American Legion, Department of Texas adjutant Bill West to learn more.